Defacing or Art?

Art in my definition has mostly meant the dictionary meaning of visual arts - majorly painting, sculpting, drawing. Though my mother has been gifting her paintings to friends and family over the years, I was nowhere near her talent. I sketched a bit, learnt it formally for a year or two when I was in school, know my way around the different graphite scales of pencil, more commonly referred to as HB, but that was about it - oil painting seemed too slow and water dried up too fast! To me, the art world was composed of snippets I'd read about the Mona Lisa, Raja Ravi Verma, the Rennaisance, a bit of MF Hussein, the Louvre Museum and that Amy March from Little Women wanted to go to Paris to make a mark for herself. 

Over the years, as the pressures of a job mounted, I'd need to de-stress every once in a while and that included a bit of graphite, paints and a variety of canvases. What started out as putting pencil to paper soon evolved into wall decals and pattern painting the walls in my room - the permanence and visibility of my art unwaveringly brought a smile to my face, making the fleeting moments of happiness last longer, the elation at an artwork higher and the chance to make my house, my home. Indian households often draw mandalas, rangolis, alpana in and outside their houses, paint around the doorframes, add their touch to the mason built houses. What started with painting the walls of my own home led to me reading more about art on walls of the world, more commonly referred to as street art. For years, art has, the kind that involves a canvas, come across as one for the elites, the upper class, the ones who can seem to afford endless resources. Or the one in a million breathtakingly talented artists who were unstoppable. But then came artists who made the world their canvases - still considered illegal in most places, sanctioned by the local authorities in a lot, freehand, stenciled, single color tags, on lampposts, on walls, on doors of abandoned houses, even on the Berlin Wall! 

Street art has not received ample recognition yet, or even appreciation enough in the world of art - it's not found its way into the organized world of art and maybe the artists don't want to make their way in there! Maybe they're trying to break the world order in their own little ways and that's what stands in way of their legal status. Often you find street art demolished, painted upon, whitewashed, street artists jailed, their activities considered illegal but all they do is put paint on a canvas, in their own free-spirited ways! Banksy, one of the most well-known street artists of these times, shredded his painting via a remote-controlled built-in-shredder in the frame, after Sotheby's auctioned one of his well-known works 'Girl With The Balloon'! Maybe it was his way of denouncing that his art cannot be monetized, or like he said, "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge". The irony? The painting then auctioned for USD 1.4Mn is now probably worth double. 

The landscape of the art world seems to be changing and it no longer can be only put together in schools - maybe it is time we recognized the efforts of the artists trying to prove a point, after all, what really scares us about street art? That the art can't be hung within the secured fortresses ala museums or that they show us the mirror?


  1. A compilation of the authors' wall decals and patterning. Copyrights with the author Aditi Chandak.

  2. The shredded Banksy painting. Source

  3. Defaced street art. Copyrights with Daniel Lobo.

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